For years, experts have been thinking about the effect hearing loss has on a person’s health. New research takes a different approach by examining what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget. Individuals, as well as the medical community, are searching for ways to reduce the rising costs of healthcare. A study put out on November 8, 2018, says something as basic as managing your hearing loss can make a significant difference.
How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss
There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from slight to severe hearing loss and found it had a significant effect on brain health. For example:
- Someone with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
- Someone with minor hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
The study showed that when someone has hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.
Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, also. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. They are also prone to have depression. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these factors.
The Newest Study
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, also. This study was also led by experts from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
They examined data from 77,000 to 150,000 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. People with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
That amount continues to grow as time goes by. Over ten years, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. Those figures, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A link between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is suggested by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
Those figures match with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- At this time, 2 to 3 of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- Approximately 15 percent of young people 18 years old have trouble hearing
- Approximately 2 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
- Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for people over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Those numbers are anticipated to rise over time. As many as 38 million people in this country might have hearing loss by 2060.
Using hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What they do know is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. To figure out whether wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare, more research is necessary. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids help you.